Center for Business and Public Policy Hosts Panel on Climate Change and International Trade

February 20, 2008 speakers

On February 12, the McDonough School's Center for Business and Public Policy hosted an expert roundtable titled "U.S. Climate Change Policy and International Trade Policy Intersections: Issues Needing Innovation for a Rapidly Expanding Agenda." The event - part of the Center's Business, Economics and Policy Seminar Series - brought together climate change and trade policy experts from throughout the Washington community.

"This is an area that not so long ago would have been considered separate policy areas with little consideration by policymakers of either trade or climate change regarding the consequences on the other area," said Dr. John Mayo, Executive Director of the Center, as he introduced the speakers.

During the event, McDonough School Associate Professor Thomas Brewer led a presentation describing specific areas where the trade and climate policy regimes have increasingly come to interact. He described a variety of approaches that are being explored to link trade policy to greenhouse gas emission reductions, including offsetting border measures and tariffs that target goods from heavily-emitting countries. Dr. Brewer also emphasized the current interest in "sectoral approaches," in which certain carbon-intensive industries (such as steel and automobile manufacturing) are treated independently. This is especially important for airlines and maritime shipping, two industries that operate outside the realm of most trade treaties. Additionally, Professor Brewer discussed the features of the leading legislative proposals in the area, the Leiberman-Warner (S. 2191) and Bingaman-Specter (S. 1766) bills.

A panel of climate change and trade experts then discussed the policy implications of Professor Brewer's research offering insights into likely policy changes and possible implications for business. Marty McBroom, Director of Federal Environmental Affairs with American Electric Power, took the opportunity to discuss a proposal sponsored by AEP and two major unions. Their proposal would require importers from countries that are large emitters of greenhouse gases and which are not taking "comparable action" with U.S. efforts to reduce emissions to obtain allowance for importation of goods into the country. The bill is designed to counter the argument that carbon reductions will give an unfair competitive advantage to industry in China and India and would take effect only after the United States commits to a cap-and-trade carbon reduction program.

Andrew Shoyer, head of international trade at the law firm of Sidley Austin LLP, discussed the implications of the various climate change proposals for WTO compliance. In particular, he suggested that the proposal offered by AEP complies with World Trade Organization laws. Joe Kruger, Policy Director at the National Commission on Energy Policy added the perspective of a bi-partisan research and policy organization. Mr. Kruger suggested that measures such as those offered by AEP address the growing level of emissions from developing countries may be critical to the passage of a cap-and-trade program within the United States.

About the Robert Emmett McDonough School of Business

Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business is a premier business school located in the nation's capital. Founded in 1957 to educate undergraduate business students through the integration of liberal arts and professional education, the McDonough School today welcomes approximately 1,300 undergraduates, 620 MBA students, and more than 500 participants in its executive education programs annually. For more information about the McDonough School, visit http://msb.georgetown.edu.

About Georgetown University

Georgetown University is the oldest Catholic and Jesuit university in America, founded in 1789 by Archbishop John Carroll. Georgetown today is a major student-centered, international, research university offering respected undergraduate, graduate and professional programs on its three campuses. For more information about Georgetown University, visit http://www.georgetown.edu.